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Meet the Superintendent Finalist: Dr. David Lawrence, Interim Superintendent for Dayton Public Schools

Adrianna DaviesNews

Dr. David Lawrence was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, and is a 1984 graduate of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. He has more than 27 years of experience in public education, having served in many roles in both suburban and urban Districts throughout his career. 

He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Cincinnati in Finance, along with two Master’s Degrees and a Ph.D. from Antioch University Graduate School of Leadership & Change. His teaching certificate/license from Central State University. His Master’s Degrees are in Educational Leadership and Educational Philosophy, and his Ph.D. is in Leadership and Change. 

Dr. Lawrence started his career as a teacher at Edwin Joel Brown Middle School and later Meadowdale High School. He has served as Assistant Principal at Stivers School for the Arts, Principal at Thurgood Marshall STEM High School, and Principal of Northmoor Elementary School. He has also served as a Mathematics Associate Director and Chief of School Innovation for Dayton Public Schools and Chief Academic Officer for the Dayton Regional STEM School. In September 2022, he returned to Dayton Public Schools to serve as Business Manager, and in July 2023 was selected to serve as Interim Superintendent. 

In addition, he has worked as a School Improvement Educational Consultant and an Educational, Instructional, and Leadership Coach. He systematizes Fullan’s framework for data analysis and school improvement.

Dr. Lawrence has a history of transformational leadership. Throughout his career, he has increased academic achievement in every role he has held and has a proven track record as a committed Urban Educator.

As a teacher, he was an active member of the DEA negotiation team, and served as the building BAR representative, and Faculty Council Chair. At the building level, he was also a class advisor and coach.

While serving as the Thurgood Marshall Principal, he made unprecedented progress in increasing test scores by 20 points during his 3-year tenure. While there, three students also earned Gates Scholarships. He laid the groundwork for Thurgood Marshall to become one of only three urban high schools to receive the STEM designation in the state of Ohio. He also created robust opportunities for students, including Engineering, Robotics, and an Urban Teacher Academy. As part of the Academy, he instituted clinical sites with local universities for pre-service teachers. Lastly, he used the Harvard Instructional Round Framework to enhance collaboration and instructional excellence. 

As Chief Academic Officer at the Dayton Regional STEM School, he led the school to earn a spot in the top 20 for academic performance in the state of Ohio.

With Jobs for the Future, Dr. Lawrence traveled the nation for two years, visiting more than 15 school districts, to lead them in systemic school improvement utilizing an evidence-based instructional framework.

As the Chief of School Innovation, he led the District to its inaugural “A” in value-added, as a result of a district-wide writing initiative. He also established the first week-long summer Principal’s Institute in conjunction with a local university.

As Business Manager, he stabilized transportation and spearheaded the $7 million renovation of the transportation center. He brought professional development to the Operations side to systematically examine mindsets and institutional and structural gaps. 

As Interim Superintendent, Dr. Lawrence immediately implemented new guiding principles for Dayton Public Schools staff in an effort to improve culture and climate. These principles, known as the “5 C’s,” include culture, commitment, communication, competence, and collaboration. Since taking over as Interim Superintendent, the District quickly saw an increase in academic results, as evidenced by improved 3rd grade reading scores in three short months, along with a decreased chronic absenteeism rate. As a future-facing Educator, he also created a District podcast, titled DPS: The Next Level, to use as a platform to feature internal employee perspectives and to model and embody the 5 C’s. Under his leadership, MHS has a 2023-2024 McIntosh Scholar.

Dr. Lawrence is a dedicated educator and leader who believes in the greatness of DPS staff, teachers, and administrators. He goes out of his way to connect and collaborate with families and the community. Dr. Lawrence strives to create an exciting and positive culture to support the District’s most valuable asset, its students. He aims to create safe, inclusive spaces in which students are seen and valued, as well as to create opportunities for accelerated learning while providing rich experiences that allow students to thrive and become independent learners. This commitment is evidenced by more than 700 field trips taking place in his short time as Interim Superintendent. 

It is essential to note that Dr. Lawrence embodies transformative leadership, having conducted six town halls with parents and the community, and meeting with staff in each of the District’s buildings to express the vision and mission of Dayton Public Schools. 

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